Ancient and Classical Names · Opinions

Hellenic Hermione

Hermione is one of my very favorite names.  Almost everyone in my generation was introduced to the name through Hermione Granger; and believe me, that’s not a bad thing for the name.  H.G. is an incredibly strong and intelligent character, and for that I think she’s a fantastic namesake.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen many comments over time that suggest the name shouldn’t be used or that parents who love the name won’t use it because it’s *too* reminiscent of the Harry Potter series.  Again, Hermione is an incredible namesake and you should be naming your daughters after her.  But, if you think the single association is still too strong, there’s good news.  There are plenty other Hermione’s throughout literature and history!

The name itself has its provenance in Greek mythology.  Hermione was the daughter of King Menelaus of Sparta and his wife Helen.  Yes, that Helen, who famously eloped with Paris and incited the Trojan War.  Hermione married Neoptolemus and later Orestes.

Thousands of years later, there are yet more Hermione’s.  Shakespeare’s Hermione in The Winter’s Tale is one of the most famous.  There’s also a French tragedy called Cadmus and Hermione, but in this case Hermione is actually an alternative rendering of Harmonia.  There have been others (I know I’m missing a few – there are a lot), but I think the next important appearance is in the 1960s David Bowie song “Letter to Hermione.”  Lastly, in the 1990s, J.K. Rowling gave us Hermione Granger. 🙂

Historically, Hermione has also been a ship’s name.  The British have had four ships called HMS Hermione since the 18th century (the last one was scrapped only in the 1990s).  The French have had 12, including one dating to 2014 that is a replica of the famous 1779 Hermione frigate.   The Spanish also had at least one of these in the 18th-century. 

This name is pretty rare in the U.S., but tends to be popular enough in the U.K. to at least make the top 500…actually, I think it was ranked exactly #500 in 2014 on the English and Welsh charts.  This isn’t to say that Americans don’t use the name; since the HP books were first published, Hermione has been hitting around 50 uses a year fairly consistently.  Even before the books came out, the name was sporadically used.  I will say this – Hermione is one of those names that is far more classically British than American. 

Nickname potential is high for this name.  In a previous post about Ancient Greek girls’ names, I wrote that diminutives like Mia, Maia, and Hera could make the name more usable for some parents.  


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